Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tony Richardson - The Entertainer (1960)

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Description: John Osbourne wrote his play "The Entertainer" specifically at the request of Laurence Olivier, who wanted the Angry Young Man of the British theater to create a vehicle for him, one of the figures of the British Establishment that Osbourne was rebelling against. Olivier hoped that appearing in the Osbourne play would make him relevant to a new generation of theater goers. It proved to be one of Olivier's greatest stage successes (The Colonial Theatre in Boston has a plaque on the outside wall commemorating Olivier's appearance there during the US tour of the play), while the film adapted from the play won him the sixth of his ten acting Academy Award nominations. His performance as Archie Rice, as well as his marriage to his young co-star Joan Plowright, one of the leading actresses of the new wave of British thespians, did keep Olivier contemporary with the new leaders of the British theater. Conversely, Olivier's generational contemporaries, including the actors John Gielgud and 'Ralph Richardson' and the playwright Terence Rattigan, would become to seem Stout and old-fashioned as they failed to keep up with the theatrical evolution. (Gieilgud would counter with the role of Julian in Edward Albee's obscure "Tiny Alice" on Broadway in 1962, but outside of the classical repertoire, he and Richardson did not recover their cachet as actors in contemporary plays until the mid-1970s, in Harold Pinter's "No Man's Land".) Olivier would help shepherd the new generation of actors, directors and playwrights as the head of the National Theatre in the 1960s and early '70s.




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ROBERT ELVAUZ